Yankees’ Free Agent Watch: Edinson Volquez
By Wayne Cavadi
It’s that time of year that all Yankees’ fans await. The free agency market is open and now we get to see who Brian Cashman decides to open the checkbook and sign. The New York Yankees are coming off their second playoff-less season in 2014, so to say there are voids on the current roster is an understatement. The Yanks will be looking to fill a variety of needs.
One of those needs is starting pitching depth. Injuries decimated they staff last year and Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are question marks for 2015. We know they will pitch, but how well and for how long before they break down again? Early reports are that the Yankees are going to pass on the biggest three pitching free agents on the market in Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields. So who do they turn to instead?
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One pitcher I hope they avoid is coming off of a career season. He is only 30-years old and doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt. All of these point to the fact that said pitcher is an attractive addition to a team looking for depth. That being said, I do not believe Edinson Volquez is the answer to the Yankees’ problems.
Volquez is the 30-year-old right-hander originally signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the Rangers in 2001. He was up and down with the Rangers over the first three years of his big league career with a high walk ratio and trouble keeping runners from crossing home plate. He was then shipped to the Reds for this Josh Hamilton guy and it looked like it all clicked. He went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
He would make 41 MLB starts over the next THREE years. He struggled in his encore to his big rookie campaign and was ultimately shut down for Tommy John surgery. The following season he was pegged for PEDs. Upon his return from suspension, he was demoted to SINGLE-A ball to get his groove back. The season after that, he was the Reds Opening Day starter, but had a dismal season and split it once again between the majors and the minors.
By 2011, the Reds had seemingly given up on Volquez and he was shipped to San Diego for Mat Latos. Volquez responded in the 2012 season by leading all of MLB in walks with 105. He was the Opening Day starter for the Padres in 2013, and he was once again awful, leading all of MLB in runs allowed. After being demoted to the minors yet again, the Padres simply released him.
He somehow had a spectacular 2014 season. He went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA for the Pirates. He pitched the most innings since his breakout rookie campaign, and had his lowest walk total in three seasons. This seems like a trap.
It was your typical walk season. Volquez, in a contract year, went out and pitched his best season since he put himself on the map almost winning Rookie of the Year six years earlier. That being said, he still led the league in wild pitches. So to recap, over his up-and-down 10-year career, Volquez has led the league in walks, runs allowed, hit batters and wild pitches.
The control issues and tendency to allow a lot of runs to score are what scare me about Volquez. Coming to the hitter friendly confines of Yankee Stadium and pitching every five days in the AL East terrifies me. What scares me the most is that these are the guys that Cashman sometimes takes a flier on. Let’s just hope he’s learned and we don’t have a Carl Pavano Part II.